The guaranteed starter format for the International Classic started several years ago, with starting spots initially awarded to drivers for winning select specials events at different tracks across the country.
In 2008 that process was altered to award starting spots to top running Oswego Speedway, International Supermodified Association (ISMA), and Midwest Supermodified Association (MSA) car owners based on point standings.
That process will change in 2014 as the Speedway announced this week that a total of six guaranteed starting positions will be available between Oswego Speedway, ISMA, and MSA Supermodified drivers, not car owners.
The top two drivers in ISMA, MSA, and Oswego Speedway points as of July 1 will be guaranteed to start the Budweiser International Classic 200 on Sunday, August 31.
This new format allows for non-weekly Oswego drivers that compete with ISMA and MSA nearly two full months to secure a ride for the richest Supermodified race in the world, should they earn the consistent results needed in their respective sanction to climb to the top two positions in points come July.
"It is our goal at the Speedway to get the Budweiser International Classic entry roster back to the 40+ mark in 2014 by attracting the best Supermodified drivers from across the land," said Oswego Speedway Public Relations Director, Dan Kapuscinski. "We feel by selecting the top two running ISMA and MSA drivers at the end of June we are giving those drivers the time they need to try and secure sponsorship, funding, and most importantly a seat in the most prestigious Supermodified race there is, the International Classic. There will be more announcements in the near future that we hope will help us to achieve our goal of giving our fans the absolute best Supermodified race in the country."
Selected guaranteed starters must time trial for the International Classic and be within .4 of a second of the 28th fastest time trialer in order to be added to the field without competing in the Bud Light B-Main.
Defending MSA Supermodified champion, Trent Stephens, believes this is a solid move on the part of Oswego Speedway to attract winged Supermodified drivers. "I think it is a great idea," said Stephens. "There are not many winged Supermodified car owners out there anymore that have a non-wing car. Obviously this will help out the drivers; we can drive both, as long as we have a wheel in our hand each day."
The recent construction of several new Novelis Supermodifieds for the pending 2014 Oswego Speedway season has left the door open for the potential of multi-car teams taking on the International Classic. An idea that no doubt is intriguing for a champion such as Stephens.
"If I am in the MSA's top two come July, I hope I can find a quality ride for the Classic," said Stephens. "I want to make a name for myself at Oswego so I can run the 200 every year. The Supermodified Triple Crown has not been done in quite a while; it is time for someone to break that."
The Supermodified Triple Crown that Stephens speaks of consists of the Sandusky Speedway Hy-Miler Nationals in July, Oswego's Budweiser International Classic on Labor Day Weekend, and the Star Speedway Classic one week after the Oswego Classic.
Only Bentley Warren, Doug Heveron, Joe Gosek, and Mike Ordway have won all three of the crown jewels in Supermodified racing.
Stephens says that the first six MSA events of the 2014 racing season will now take on even greater significance, as he looks to lock himself into his first International Classic since 2009.
"Every driver has goals at the beginning of the year, most are to win races and championships," said Stephens. "With this guaranteed driver format change for the Classic it certainly changes my goals for the early season with MSA. I want to be back in the Oswego Classic again. I feel that I have become a much better driver since 2009 and I want to prove I can run up front without a wing too."
A total 17 Supermodified events will comprise the driver's qualifying trail for the International Classic.
The MSA Supermodified series will take on six events at Sandusky Speedway, M-40 Speedway, Lorain County Speedway, and Toledo Speedway before the July 1 point deadline.
The ISMA Supermodified series will contend in five events at Oswego Speedway, Airborne Park Speedway, Oxford Plains Speedway, and Autodrome Chaudiere prior to July 1.
Like the MSA, Oswego Speedway will hold six Novelis Supermodified events prior to locking in two drivers on July 1 including the Jim Shampine Memorial 75 and the Supermodified Twin 35's in June.
Based on this year's new guaranteed starter format for the International Classic Joe Gosek, Otto Sitterly, Lou Cicconi, Jon McKennedy, Trent Stephens, and Charlie Schultz would have been locked into the 2013 Budweiser International Classic 200.
A seventh and final guaranteed driver position will be announced later this week.
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To purchase tickets for the 2014 racing season call the Speedway box office at (315) 342-0646.
2014 Budweiser International Classic Guaranteed Starter Qualifying Trail
Top 2 drivers in points in each of the below sanctions at the conclusion of the listed events will be guaranteed starters for the Budweiser International Classic 200 on August 31.
May 10 – 53rd annual Mitchell's Speedway Press/Planet Fitness 'Novelis Supermodified Kick-Off' (50-laps)
May 24 – RJ Caruso Tax & Accounting/A&P Auto Parts 'Jim Shampine Memorial' (75-laps)
May 31 – Best Western Plus-Quality Inn/U-Pull U-Save Auto Parts 'Spring Championship' (50-laps)
June 14 – Century 21 Galloway Realty/OswegoCountyToday.com 'Autograph Night' (50-laps)
June 21 – Burke's Home Centers/Helena Chemical Company 'Supermodified Twin 35's'
International Supermodified Association (ISMA):
May 3 – 64th Gater Racing News Opening Night at Oswego Speedway / 'Irish' Jack Murphy Memorial 56
May 24 – Airborne Park Speedway (75-laps)
June 7 – North Country Home Builders Night at Oswego Speedway (50-laps)
June 20 – Oxford Plains Speedway / Bentley Warren Classic 75
June 21 – Autodrome Chaudiere (75-laps)
Midwest Supermodified Association (MSA):
May 10 – Sandusky Speedway / Super Nationals
May 24 – M40 Speedway
May 31 – Sandusky Speedway
June 7 – Lorain County Speedway
June 13 – Toledo Speedway
June 21 – Sandusky Speedway